Kia Addison

Kia Addison is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA from August 2020 – August 2021, as our arts business development and outreach specialist. Kia is excited to work with and expand Tananáwit, by recruiting Warm Springs artists and helping them market their artwork through local and social media outreach. She’s also determined to expand our business training programs and opportunities for artists so they may sustain their work and practices in empowered, confident ways. She has traveled to Britain and Belgium as a student ambassador and been a host for two Portland Tedx Events. Kia was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. She wrote her first novel in sixth grade and (according to her!) it was terrible, but it put her on a path to graduate from Pacific University Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature. She’s a published poet, essayist and spoken word performer, and the first woman to graduate from college in her family.

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Marissa Ahern

Marissa Ahern joined our team in May 2018 as the project manager for WSCAT’s Old Commissary Small Business Incubator Project. As a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS), Marissa has always been passionate about working in her community. She graduated magna cum laude with her Bachelor’s in Environmental Design in Architecture from the University of Colorado Boulder. While working with BBT Architects, Marissa was able to work on a number of community projects, including the Warm Springs K-8 Academy. Her interest in housing led to an assignment at the Warm Springs Housing Authority, an internship at HUD’s Office of Native American Program’s in Washington D.C., and inspired her undergraduate thesis, Tribal Housing on The Warm Springs Indian Reservation. During her time as Project Manager Marissa will be completing a Master’s in Community and Economic Development from Penn State University. Marissa’s future plans include using her background in design and community development to work with tribal communities through her business, Native Roots Design, LLC. Having enjoyed her last few years in Boulder, Colorado, Marissa is happy to return home and join in WSCAT’s goal of making a positive impact in the Warm Springs community.

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Emily Courtney

Emily Courtney, WSCAT’s arts business & marketing specialist, is a Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs tribal member who began working at WSCAT in June 2018.  Though a WSCAT staff member, Emily’s role is primarily to assist Tananáwit, a new nonprofit arts organization (incorporated in May 2018), to build its capacity and open a new arts store featuring the work of community artists. Emily is working to develop Tananáwit’s financial and personnel policies and to create operating policies and a sustainable staffing plan for the Tananáwit store in the Commissary small business incubator, which is scheduled to open in May 2021. She will also develop sales and gallery space within the store and ensure appropriate advertising and signage for the store. Emily has worked for the CTWS for 14 years, including stints at the Early Childhood Education Center, Kah-Nee-Tah Resort and Spa, Indian Head Casino, Children’s Protective Services, and the Museum at Warm Springs. Emily dedicates time and energy to her community by coaching Special Olympics softball, donating her artwork to families fundraising for youth activities in the community, and helping out at bi-annual Museum at Warm Springs special events.

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Nettie Dickson

Nettie Dickson, WSCAT’s IDA program coordinator and AARP Tax Aid program manager, is a Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) tribal member.  Nettie has provided training to hundreds of CTWS community members in financial skills, credit repair, asset building, and entrepreneurship since 2010. She recruits participants into WSCAT’s courses, trainings, and programs, and assists IDA clients in staying on track to meet their savings goals.  Nettie is an accredited trainer in First Nations Development Institute’s Building Native Communities financial education curriculum and ONABEN’s Indianpreneurship curriculum, a certified AARP tax aide, and is working to become a certified credit counselor. Between 1984 and 2010, Nettie worked in various capacities with the Warm Springs Early Childhood Daycare Center, Vocational Rehabilitation Department, Tribal Court, and Warm Springs Forest Products.

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Leah Guliasi

Leah Guliasi came to WSCAT is 2015 as an AmeriCorps VISTA and continued to work with WSCAT when her volunteer year was complete. She currently serves as WSCAT’s IDA Program Manager and Artisans’ Co-op Project Manager, assisting community members in opening IDA accounts, co-facilitating trainings, conducting needs assessments and feasibility studies, writing grant proposals, running the outdoor market, and reporting on the IDA program. She is also a certified AARP tax aide and housing counselor. She has been working with artists since 2016 and helped Tananáwit become a non-profit. She is a liaison and Secretary to the Tananáwit board, where she continues to update online pages, oversees bookkeeping for the organization, and helps artists find ways to sell and promote their work. She also serves as the Board Secretary/Treasurer for the Madras Downtown Association. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 2014 and a Master’s Degree  in Community Development and Planning in 2015, both at Clark University in Worcester, MA.

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Starla Green

Starla Green joined WSCAT in September 2019 as its Food Cart Manager/Trainer. In this role, Starla will train 25-30 Warm Springs tribal and community members per year in how to manage and operate food carts and food service businesses. Ms. Green is a CTWS tribal member, and is of Warm Springs, Dutch, English, Irish, and Scottish descent. She was born and raised in the strict cultural ways of her traditional family, raised to be a Traditional Indian Woman, provider to her family and people, and to carry on the traditional ways of her Indian family. She is from a ranching family, committed to hard work and sustainability, learning to live in two worlds; and to surviving and being successful in both. She is a lifelong longhouse cook and food gatherer, hide tanner, fisher, and hunter. She carries and teaches the traditional lifestyle as much as possible, so that we will always keep our identity as Indian people. Starla and her daughter reside at the old family homestead ranch where they run livestock and host traditional ceremonies of her ancestors. Starla operates a small business, Peaceful Spirit Creations, that she and her mother started several years ago.  She is or has been involved in cultural tourism, catering, food vending, and creating and selling crafts (including leather work, buckskin, purses, traditional clothing, pow-wow outfits, and kupins), and is a self-taught seamstress. Starla graduated with an Associate’s Degree from Blue Mountain Community College and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Western Oregon University. She had a career in law enforcement/public service for over 25 years, where she was a police officer, detective, and administrator with different law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Oregon and in Warm Springs.

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Demus Martinez

Demus Martinez began working with WSCAT in January 2018. He serves as financial counselor, assisting Warm Springs community members in building and repairing their credit and in developing spending and savings strategies to reach short and long-term savings goals. As financial counselor, he also serves as a Pathways Home and Financial Skills for Families instructor, seasonal tax preparer, and occasional IDA provider. Demus is member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and has worked locally in the Warm Springs Tribal Court as a legal advocate for CTWS tribal member clients. He has volunteered for Warm Springs Victims of Crime Services, the Jefferson County Victim Impact Panel, and locally for the Native Aspirations Coalition, focused on preventing youth from engaging in behaviors that are harmful to themselves and others. He is married and owns a home with his wife and kids in Warm Springs. He enjoys salmon fishing on the Columbia River, in the traditional manner passed onto him by his elders. He enjoys teaching this and other skills to his kids and others.  

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Carina Miller

Carina Miller is a research analyst working on the Vibrant Tribal Economies (VTE) project, funded through a research grant from the Northwest Area Foundation. In this role, Carina collects data and analyzes the economic history of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs through document review, focus groups, asset mapping, leakage studies, and the utilization of statistical and other research methods. Ms. Miller is working with the community members and partners to collect peoples’ visions, experiences, and hopes for economic development. Working with WSCAT team members, she will present this information in accessible ways and help develop recommendations on how to overcome the many challenges vexing the Warm Springs Reservation economy. Carina was formerly an Agency district representative on the 27th Tribal Council of Warm Springs, is currently the Co-Chair for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Energy Committee, the Chair of the Native American Caucus for the Oregon Democrats, and a Columbia River Gorge Commissioner. Her biggest accomplishment is becoming a mother and being able to raise her son, Waluxpykee Barkley, here in Warm Springs.

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Alicia Obermeier

Alicia Obermeier (she/her) is serving through AmeriCorps VISTA as WSCAT’s Marketing and Outreach Coordinator from August 2020 – August 2021, and will be primarily working on our Commissary small business incubator project during that period. Alicia recently graduated from University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a degree in Human Services Leadership and Women and Gender Studies, where she worked on creating the Regional People of Color Business Association to build a strong economic circle for the BIPOC community in Wisconsin. Following her year with WSCAT, she intends to continue her education in Tribal Governance. Having already worked with the Lakota tribe, Alicia strives to work hands-on within indigenous reservations to rebuild communities throughout the US. Alicia’s passions are social justice, reparations, and women’s rights. She’s very excited to be a part of WSCAT and their amazing team!

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Dustin Seyler

Dustin Seyler joined our team in May 2017.  He serves as small business program manager, responsible for providing business planning assistance, instruction, and coaching to Warm Springs community members interested in starting or expanding their businesses. He also serves as an Indianpreneurship instructor, and has planned and executed various large community events, including the 2019 First Annual Warm Springs Small Business Conference.  In addition, Dustin works to support the Warm Springs Outdoor Market, the Commissary Small Business Incubator project,  local projects supporting agricultural entrepreneurship, and expanding educational and work opportunities for youth. Dustin is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, a United States Navy veteran, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Warm Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (WSACC).  He holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in leadership, organization, and management from Eastern Oregon University.  His professional experience includes over ten years of retail experience in various industries, internships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Small Business Administration, and experience managing an oil company with 100 employees.

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Lori Switzler

Lori Switzler, office manager, has been employed with WSCAT since April 2014. Lori takes care of the financial functions such as payroll, accounts payable, budgets, and file management. Along with these duties, she assists the staff with other functions, which include client recruitment, outdoor market setup, and coordinating summer youth tasks. She began working as a tax preparer with WSCAT’s AARP tax aide program in 2014. Lori previously worked with the Warm Springs Finance department for 15 years, and was also the office manager for the Warm Springs Social Services department for 2 years. Lori is in pursuit of an associate’s degree in business specializing in accounting. Her other passion is learning Kiksht, one of the tribal languages in danger of becoming extinct. Lori has two daughters and three small dogs, all whom live in beautiful Warm Springs.

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Chris Watson

Chris Watson, WSCAT’s executive director, has worked at WSCAT since April 2013.  As executive director, he leads WSCAT’s 10-person staff and works with the WSCAT board, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) tribal government, and community partners to promote community development on the reservation. He is also responsible for strategic planning, fundraising, reporting, and ensuring proper financial management of the organization. Before coming to Warm Springs, Chris served as a senior analyst at the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) in Washington DC, evaluating nearly 100 community-based projects implemented by Native American tribes and nonprofits, including over 40 economic development projects.  Chris has also served as a consultant, researcher, and evaluator for various U.S. and international NGOs; as a grant proposal writer and project manager at a New Hampshire agricultural education center; as a US Army lieutenant, and as an ESL instructor. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Claremont McKenna College and Master’s degree in sustainable development from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT.  He has worked or studied in Nepal, South Korea, Germany, Guatemala, and Saudi Arabia. He lives in Bend, OR with his wife Hanako and his dog Dewey.

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